After six hours of trekking up and down tricky terrain, zip lining over waterfalls and valleys, abseiling down trees and climbing the face of a mountain, I’m mentally and physically exhausted!
If you’re not particularly good with heights, like me, trusting that seemingly-thin wire while you’re zipping from mountain to mountain is something you have to quickly combat. And I’m glad to say, after a bit of a shaky start, I was well away after the first line and my inner adrenaline junkie was screaming out for more!
Because Laos is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, its countryside is largely untouched and the path we took through the jungle felt a lot less travelled than our trek in Thailand. As such, we got to see a lot more wildlife (including monkeys and yes, even a snake!) And the bird’s-eye view was the perfect way to be able to appreciate the area’s jaw-dropping scenery.
There were various zip-line routes, but most went over valleys and above the Bolaven Plateau, a huge waterfall. Typical me went a did a ‘Boris Johnson’ on the longest and highest line, and I was left dangling over a deep, vast valley for a good five minutes while one of the unlucky instructors came to rescue me from the middle of the line. I caught it all on video!
At the end of day one, the final task was to zip line to our 30-metre-high tree house in the dark. A little bit scary, but I was just relieved to get to my bed after an incredibly demanding day. Little did I know that the following day was going to require a heap-load more stamina and determination! Before I went to sleep, I moved my daypack into my bed to cover a small hole in the mosquito net. I woke in the morning to find an even bigger hole in the mosquito net and after moving my bag, discovered that one corner of it had been munched too, and found the remaining crumbs of a packet of biscuits that I’d brought with me in case my blood sugar level became too low during trekking. At first I thought it may have been ants … that was until I saw a mouse trying to drag the packet into its Tom & Jerry-style hole in the bathroom wall!! Of course, I got a photo of that too. Cheeky little beggar!
Ahh, day two. Our first mission was to trek for two hours to the two mightiest zip lines. Over rocks, down steep muddy hills and yep, all done in my trusty Fred Perry plims. These zips offered, by far, the best views compared to the previous day (one line was 450 metres long; the one I managed to lose momentum on). After another two hours’ trekking back up hill and after a bite to eat, we were led to a rather fierce-looking mountain face (it was the highest point of the Bolaven Plateau – 4,430 ft above sea level, just to give you an idea of its magnitude). And the only way back to the mini-van was to climb it! I can’t even describe how tense I was during the climb – especially when I had to turn a corner – and I can’t tell you how relieved I felt when I reached the top. Phew! I think I’ll have arms and legs of steel by the time I come home..
Despite hating every second of rock climbing, I’m glad I at least tried it! The rest, I absolutely loved (even when momentarily flagging) and I’ll definitely be doing something similar again when I can.